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Research

Participate in a research project

High quality research is essential to enable better understanding of autism and to develop improved supports in the future.

Why should you get involved?

Researchers are always looking for participants for their projects – the more participants, the greater the chances of meaningful results that reflect the wide range of issues that people on the autism spectrum and their families face. So get involved where you can – it will help improve their knowledge and it may benefit you!

Disclaimer: Autism Queensland aims to support research that promises to inform future directions of services for individuals on the spectrum and their families. Although we screen each project before advertising, we do not necessarily endorse the views, activities or organisations of researchers.


Projects seeking participants

Contact details of all researchers are provided for each of our projects. If you are interested in participating in a study please click on those of the following you believe will be of interest. This list is updated regularly and includes research being undertaken externally and by Autism Queensland.

Do autistic children experience barriers when accessing hospitals?

Participants Required:

We are inviting parents or caregivers of children on the autism spectrum aged 3 to 16 years who have accessed a hospital (public or private) in Australia within the previous five years (2018-2022) to participate.

Brief Description of Project:

Every day, children and adults on the autism spectrum utilise healthcare services, many of which are in the hospital setting. Some parents and children have told us that they can sometimes experience barriers when accessing these services. We would like to know more about how and when these barriers are experienced. This knowledge will help us work with healthcare providers to understand how and why health disparities occur and assist future research in addressing interventions that improve healthcare for children on the spectrum.

Methodology: Participants will complete an anonymous online survey that will take 25-30 minutes. The questionnaire includes general demographic questions as well as standardised questionnaires about autistic traits and barriers to healthcare.

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Benefits to Participants:

Participation in this study may not directly benefit you. However, the study aims to contribute new knowledge to the field of autism and healthcare by identifying the barriers encountered by autistic children accessing hospital care. Once these barriers are identified, appropriate interventions may be implemented to enhance health care.

At the end of the survey, you can select to provide your contact details to enter the draw to win 1 of five $50 Prezzee Smart eGift cards (your contact details are collected and stored separate to your responses, so that your answers remain anonymous).

Access the survey

Contact Details:

Assoc.Prof. Dawn Adams
Autism Centre of Excellence, Griffith University
T: (07) 3735 5854
E: Dawn.Adams@Griffith.edu.au

Dr Jessica Paynter
School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University
E: j.paynter@Griffith.edu.au

Amanda Cook
Griffith University
E: amanda.cook@griffithuni.edu.au

Understanding parental perceptions and current community management strategies in children with neurodevelopmental disorders

Participants Required:

We seek the participation of parents/carers of children (<18yrs) on the autism spectrum. Your participation is welcome and appreciated.

Brief Description of Project:

Studies have demonstrated that sleep problems are more common in children with neurodevelopmental disorders, including children on the autism spectrum. Poor sleep can worsen learning and behavioural difficulties and can aggravate underlying disease, affecting the child and the whole family’s well being. However this is an understudied area and this research seeks to understand more about the current prevalence, management and priorities for families regarding sleep in children with neurodisabilities. The specific aims of this study are:

  1. To estimate the prevalence of sleep problems in Australian children with neurodisability in the community
  2. To identify sleep priorities of the families of children with neurodisability
  3. To understand the current management received by children with neurodisability for sleep problems (including children with different underlying diagnoses)
  4. To compare the prevalence of sleep problems in children with neurodisability in the community to those referred to the sleep clinic at the Queensland Children’s Hospital.

Methodology: This study involves a survey of families of children with a wide range of underlying disabilities, including children with autism spectrum. Consumer organisations will be approached and requested to facilitate distribution of an online survey link to families linked with their organisation. Families will be asked to complete 4 questions relating to their child and their sleep. All information will be de-identified when received by the research team from families (transferred directly to a RedCap database when completed).

Benefits to Participants:

The Participants will have the opportunity to inform clinical researchers about their experiences relating to raising a child with autism and sleep problems. They will be able to provide their thoughts on priorities for researchers and clinicians to focus on when developing clinical guidelines for the management of sleep problems in this population of children.

The benefit is therefore indirect, in that the families will assist in improving the management of sleep problems in children with not just autism but also other disabilities long-term.

Access the survey

Contact Details:

Jasneek Chawla
Chief Investigator/Associate Professor
Children’s Health Queensland/University of Queensland
E: jasneek.chawla@health.qld.gov.au
P: 0452 662 105

Brooke Innis
Children’s Health Queensland
E: sleepservice@health.qld.gov.au
P: (07) 3068 5056

Maria Carmen
Children’s Health Queensland
E: mariacarmen.miguel@health.qld.gov.au

Emma Cooke
University of Queensland
E: e.cooke@uq.edu.au

Training and Development in Evidence-Based Practice in Autism Early Intervention Centres

Participants Required:

We seek the participation of early intervention providers who work directly with children on the autism spectrum including teachers, allied health professionals, and early childhood professionals. Your participation is welcome and appreciated.

Brief Description of Project:

The aim of this research is to gain in-depth understanding of the practices used in autism early intervention, as well as of training and development needs of individuals working in this field. The results will inform professional development approaches in the future.

Benefits to Participants:

The results of this research will contribute to our understanding of the practices used in the autism early intervention field. Moreover, by taking count of participants’ priorities and preferences, they will inform future research and professional development approaches. As concerns participants, we hope that you will benefit through taking the time to recall and reflect on important experiences and challenges related to your profession and work.

Access the survey

 

For more information please contact:

Sarah Luskin-Saxby
PhD Candidate, School of Applied Psychology
Griffith University
E: s.luskin-saxby@griffith.edu.au

Dr Jessica Paynter
Supervisor & Senior Lecturer, School of Applied Psychology
Griffith University
E: j.paynter@griffith.edu.au
P: (07) 5678 7058

An Exploratory Study on The Associations Between Parenting Practices and Challenging Behaviours in Children on the Spectrum and the Role of Other Parenting Variables on this Association

Participants Required:

Parents of primary school-aged children (6-13 years) on the autism spectrum.

Brief Description of Project:

We are interested in the associations between parenting practices, parenting stress, and challenging behaviours in children on the autism spectrum, with most research based on typically-developing children. We do not know if these might be the same or different for parents of children on the autism spectrum. Exploring these associations within this population will help in our understanding of specific parenting factors including protective parenting factors, and therefore underline important target variables for parent interventions designed specifically for this group. This study aims to address this important gap in research. The study design is a cross-sectional survey of parents of children on the autism spectrum.

Benefits to Participants:

Through sharing your experiences with us, we hope to gain a more in depth understanding of parenting practices commonly seen in parents of children on the autism spectrum, as well protective parenting factors. We hope to use this information to inform researchers, clinicians, support services, and parents so that they can have a better understanding of parenting practices specific to the autism community and thus develop interventions and strategies to support parents and their children on the autism spectrum. Further, after completion of the questionnaire, you can choose to participate in a prize draw* to win one of three $50 Woolworths gift cards.

Access the survey

For more information please contact:

PhD Student Researcher: Ms Vedanta Suvarna
School of Applied Psychology
E: vedanta.suvarna@griffithuni.edu.au

Supervisors:

Dr Jessica Paynter
School of Applied Psychology
Phone: (07) 5678 7058
E: j.paynter@griffith.edu.au

Professor Lara Farrell
School of Applied Psychology
Phone: (07) 5678 8224
E: l.farrell@griffith.edu.au

Associate Professor Dawn Adams
Autism Centre of Excellence
School of Education and Professional Studies
Phone: (07) 3735 5854
E: Dawn.Adams@Griffith.edu.au

Dr Lisa-Marie Emerson
School of Health Sciences
Phone: +64 3 3690175
E: lisa.emerson@canterbury.ac.nz

 


Does repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), compared to sham rTMS, improve social communication in adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

Participants Required:

People between 14 and 40 years of age with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder may be eligible to join this study.
Participants with a history of seizures, an implanted medical device, or moderate to severe intellectual disability cannot participate in this study.

Description of Project:

Background: Many individuals with ASD experience difficulty with social functioning; for example, in understanding what other people are thinking or feeling. This may cause significant distress and lead to difficulties and anxiety in social situations. There are very few intervention options for improving abilities related to social functioning in ASD.

Aim: The aim of this project is to determine whether rTMS can be used to improve social function. rTMS is a safe and non-invasive means of stimulating nerve cells in a particular part of the brain via the administration of brief magnetic pulses. rTMS has been developed as a intervention for major depressive disorder, and we have previously found that rTMS can benefit social aspects of ASD.

Methodology: In this study we will stimulate a region of the brain that is involved in social understanding and social communication. This region is called the right temporoparietal junction, or rTPJ.

Some participants will receive the real form of rTMS, while others will receive a sham or placebo form. The sham or placebo form mimics the feeling of rTMS, but no brain stimulation is delivered. You will not know which one you receive until the end of your involvement in the study. Those who received the sham or placebo form will be given the opportunity to undergo the real rTMS intervention at the end of their involvement in the study.

Participants will come in for multiple sessions across an 8-month period. The sessions will involve MRI brain scans, the TMS sessions, genetic analysis, cognitive testing, and clinical assessments.

150 people (aged 14-40 years) will take part in this study, which is being conducted throughout Australia. There are sites in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth. Participants will be recruited from around Australia, but primarily the greater metropolitan regions within these five cities. In Brisbane we are looking for 30 participants.

rTMS is an experimental intervention. This means that it is not an approved intervention for ASD in Australia or elsewhere.

Benefits to Participants:

We cannot guarantee or promise that you will receive any benefits from this research; however, possible benefits include an improvement in social understanding and functioning, including an increased ability to accurately infer what other people are thinking or feeling.

Survey link

Contact Details:

Dr Suzanne Harte
The University of Queensland
E. UQ_abic@uq.edu.au
P. 07 3069 7604

https://tmsautism.com/

ENACT: Environmental Enrichment for Infants: Parenting with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Participants Required:

We are looking to recruit pregnant women who have an older child diagnosed with ASD or either parent is diagnosed with ASD.  This is so that the intervention can commence antenatally or very early in the neonatal period.

For participants to be included in this study they must meet the following inclusion criteria:

(1) the infant’s mother must agree to the assessment requirements of the study;

(2) the infant must have one or more biological siblings diagnosed with ASD, or a biological parent (mother or father) diagnosed with ASD; and

(3) As ENACT uses integrated web-based delivery, parents are required to have reliable internet access at home (e.g. ADSL) and must be committed to maintaining internet access for the duration of the study.

The study will exclude potential participants in the case of:

(1) the parents having insufficient English to complete the assessment requirements; or

(2) families who identify at recruitment that they are unwilling to return for the outcome assessments at 6 months and 12 months of age.

(3) infants with a known chromosomal or neurological condition prior to study enrolment

Project Description:

Background: Infant siblings of older children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are at an increased risk of a diagnosis of ASD. From 6-12 months of age there are prodromal symptoms of ASD in the domains of motor skills, motor planning, visual attention, visual perception and affect regulation. This can impact on parent-infant interaction and language, social and cognitive development. In addition, mothers of infants at risk of ASD are at risk of poorer mental health when compared to the general population due to the complexity of managing ASD. Currently, there are no trials that have been conducted with infants at risk of ASD younger than six months of age.

Aims: The aim of this research is to test the efficacy of an innovative early intervention, ENACT, for families of infants at risk of ASD through a randomised controlled trial with ENACT compared to care as usual, and testing the effect of the intervention in improving the parent-child relationship and infant developmental outcomes.

Benefits to Participants:

There are currently no evidence-based interventions available to parent of infants younger than 6 months of age who are at risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Families who are randomised to the intervention group will get early access to a novel intervention program that aims to enrich the life of their family. Parents will also play a role in refining the content of the program. All families will get comprehensive developmental assessments at the conclusion of the study, when their baby is 12 months old.  Families will receive a copy of this report.

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For more information:

Miss Kavindri Kulasinghe or Dr Andrea McGlade
P: (07) 3069 7547
E: enact.qcprrc@uq.edu.au

Interventions for Autism: Parental/personal Experiences and Views

Participants Required:

Two distinctive groups of participants are required:

1) parents/guardians of children (<25) with diagnoses of ASD; and
2) adults (>18) with autism diagnoses.

Brief Description of Project:

The primary research objective for the present study is to ascertain parental/ guardian and/or personal (for adults over 18 years) views of certain interventions for ASD, based on their individual experiences. We also aim to identify preferred intervention approaches that may inform research decisions.

Benefits to Participants:

Given the likely efforts involved when navigating difficulties associated with autism, participants are likely to be intrinsically motivated to share their unique experience and views as parents/guardians/individuals on the autism spectrum; in addition, they may learn of intervention approaches that they wish to investigate. The target group of this exploratory survey are rarely asked for their individual opinions. For this reason, participants may feel both respected and appreciated for their contributions.

Access the survey

For more information please contact:

Ms Nina Parrella – Co-Investigator
E. parrellan@deakin.edu.au

The Influences of Self-Reported Social Camouflaging

Participants Required:

Adults (18+ years) with an autism diagnosis (including a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, Rett’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, or Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS))

Brief Description of Project:

Social camouflaging is a term used to describe behaviour that hides or masks aspects of oneself from others to ‘fit in’ and to form relationships with others. Little is known about when or how individuals use social camouflaging across various environments (e.g., face-to-face) and contexts (e.g., work vs. social). This project explores how and when different types of social camouflaging are used.

Your participation will involve completing an anonymous online survey that will take 25-30 minutes. The questionnaire includes general demographic questions as well as standardised questionnaires about autistic traits, social camouflaging behaviours, social media usage and other social behaviour.

Benefits to Participants:

Participation in this project will not directly benefit you. However, the information obtained through the study may be used to improve our understanding of social behaviour and inform future advocacy.

At the end of the survey, you can select to provide your contact details to enter the draw to win 1 of three $50 vouchers for the Woolworths group. (Your contact details are collected and stored separate to your responses, so that your answers on the survey will remain anonymous).

Access the survey

For more information please contact:

Jessica Bowley
E. jessica.bowley@griffithuni.edu.au

Dr Cathryne Lang
School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University
T: (07) 3735 3308
E: cathryne.lang@griffith.edu.au

Researchers

If you would like to have your project listed on our site, please click here.

For more information about research at Autism Queensland